Loves to play rough

Though it pro­vokes guf­faws among Span­ish speak­ers, the Pa­jero is a se­ri­ous off-roader

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Car - GRAHAM SMITH graham.smith@cars­guide.com.au

NEW

They all look alike, but not all high-riding four-wheel-drive wag­ons will sur­vive in the rough-and-tum­ble of the of­froad world.

Most are la­belled soft­road­ers for good rea­son; they’re bet­ter left in the shed if you in­tend to get off the beaten track. Only a hand­ful are up to the task of se­ri­ous four-wheeldriv­ing. One of them is the Mit­subishi Pa­jero, which has carved out a for­mi­da­ble rep­u­ta­tion for beat­ing round the bush. De­spite its wel­learned cred (and be­ing un­for­tu­nately la­belled with what turns out to be Span­ish slang for “wanker”; there it’s known as the Mon­tero), the Paj has had to learn to live in the shadow of its ri­vals, Toy­ota’s ubiq­ui­tous LandCruiser and Nis­san’s Pa­trol.

But those who know rate the big Mit­subishi highly. The NT was the maker’s move to match ri­vals and get the wagon up to speed with mar­ket de­mands for more com­fort and re­fine­ment.

Lit­tle was changed in terms of the Pa­jero’s off-road abil­ity, it had ev­ery­thing it needed to get it through the tough stuff, from de­cent ground clear­ance and short over­hangs to its low-range gear­ing and locked diff etc.

The most ob­vi­ous changes were in­side. You could have dual-zone air, power seats, leather trim, rear DVD player, su­per sound sys­tem, Blue­tooth, sat­nav, rear park­ing sen­sors and a rev­ers­ing cam­era. Less ob­vi­ous was the change to the 3.2-litre turbo-diesel en­gine, which had 18 per cent more power and torque and im­proved fuel econ­omy.

With 441Nm of torque on tap it ably towed 3000kg, up 500kg from the pre­vi­ous model, enough to han­dle a de­cent sized car­a­van. For those hooked on petrol there was also the 3.8-litre V6, but that was un­changed in the new model.

Those keen to get the best econ­omy had no choice but the diesel, which on Mit­subishi’s claims would re­turn 8.4 L/100km with the man­ual gear­box or 9.2 L/100km with the five-speed auto. If you weren't both­ered by fuel con­sump­tion the V6 would do 13.5 L/100km. There was a five-speed auto, which was the one most cho­sen, or a five-speed man­ual.

For those keen on tow­ing the man­ual shift of the auto made the auto an ob­vi­ous choice for ease of open-road driv­ing. Like its ri­vals the Pa­jero was a big bus made for a big job, but it was also a re­laxed, com­fort­able wagon to drive.

NOW

The NT Pa­jero is gen­er­ally re­li­able and rugged and gives lit­tle trou­ble.

Look un­der the ve­hi­cle for signs of off-road use. While the Pa­jero is ca­pa­ble of han­dling the rough and tum­ble of bush tracks, you don’t want to buy one that has been used off-road ex­ten­sively and pos­si­bly suf­fered for it.

Look for bashed-in or sand­blasted body­work, flat­tened chas­sis fit­tings, crunched ex­hausts, bat­tered sus­pen­sion com­po­nents, torn seals etc. They’re all signs, not only of off-road use, but also of the more con­cern­ing abuse. A tow­bar on the back and car­a­van or boat in the drive are signs a ve­hi­cle has been used for tow­ing.

That’s not some­thing to be overly con­cerned about; its more a sign the ve­hi­cle has been work­ing hard. Ser­vic­ing is even more cru­cial on a hard work­ing ve­hi­cle, whether it’s in a tough off-road sit­u­a­tion or tow­ing a heavy load for hun­dreds, or even thou­sands, of kilo­me­tres.

For that rea­son it’s im­por­tant to check the ser­vice record to make sure the oil has been reg­u­larly changed when rec­om­mended by Mit­subishi. When test driv­ing a diesel look for black smoke from the ex­haust, par­tic­u­larly when ac­cel­er­at­ing. Like vir­tu­ally all brands to­day the diesel uses com­mon-rail tech­nol­ogy, and the in­jec­tors wear out. If you de­tect black smoke, you could be up for new in­jec­tors.

SMITHY SAYS

Sound, solid, re­li­able work­horse for any­one with a need to go bush or tow a big load.

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